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Aotearoa Fisheries keen for collaborative approach

Aotearoa Fisheries keen for collaborative approach

New Zealand’s largest Māori-owned fishing group, Aotearoa Fisheries, applauds the government’s focus on sustainably managing and protecting our oceans, but is concerned that recreational fishing parks and marine and seabed reserves and sanctuaries will adversely affect Māori fishing rights.

Aotearoa Fisheries Chief Executive Carl Carrington says it is very clear that the proposition to exclude all commercial and non-commercial customary fishing from parks, reserves and sanctuaries is making Iwi anxious.

“Māori have fought hard to have their fishing rights recognised under the Treaty and, for iwi to have confidence in Treaty Settlements, the Government will need to carefully consider these rights,” he said. “It does provide some reassurance that the Government says it will seek greater consultation with Māori and the community to work through the issue.”

“As an agent of Māori in matters concerning the marine environment, Aotearoa Fisheries has an important role to play in preserving Iwi fishing assets secured as part of the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Settlement given effect by the Māori Fisheries Act 2004. The proposals as they are set out will have a significant impact on the rights of Iwi under the Treaty Settlement,” he said.

“Iwi have always held a key role in the sustainability of a resource that should be available for everyone to enjoy for generations to come. In addition to personal responsibility, Iwi fishing quota rises and falls on the tides of sustainability already.”

If the proposed changes are to go ahead, Aotearoa Fisheries supports the notion that fair compensation must be given to those whose livelihoods are affected.

With regard to recreation-only areas, Mr Carrington questions whether it is an effective sustainability tool.

“I believe a combination of a well-managed Quota Management System, responsive fisheries management decisions and the implementation of protection areas where needed will deliver the best possible conservation and economic balance for all New Zealanders,” he says.

“The other key to achieving effective sustainable management (ie longevity) of this shared resource is being able to measure all catches – customary, commercial, charter and recreational – as effectively as possible. Without it, we do not have adequate data on which the Government is able to base responsible fisheries management decisions.”

ENDS

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